Viele has been a faculty member at UM-Flint since 1992. He has been director of the Applied Science program since 2005, and a lecturer in the Honors Program since 2009. The award is funded by the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. The deans nominate candidates, with the Provost selecting the recipient.
"Dennis has an impressive record in program development, having spearheaded the development of the Bachelor of Science Program in Wildlife Biology that continues to grow each year," UM-Flint Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Douglas Knerr said in his announcement to campus. "In addition he has developed five other courses within the department, and has made comprehensive improvements to other courses as well."
Biology Chair Steve Myers said Viele takes "a very practical, make-it-real approach when he teaches."
"He gets students engaged in the subject," Myers said. "He has a very positive attitude about things."
Viele has taught more than 15 biology courses, ranging from introductory to graduate level. His approach is the same for all students, Viele said. He provides his cell phone number to each of them and encourages them to call him as late as 11 p.m. any day of the week if they have questions.
"I know if I was in that situation, I'd like someone to do that for me," he said.
Viele advises all science students at freshman orientation, and has several advising roles throughout the year, including those in the Applied Science program, which provides students with an associate's degree a direct path to a bachelor's degree.
"They are a unique batch of students because their interests are so varied," he said. "It's interesting advising them," he said. "Sometimes we have to study their career path together."
Viele earned his undergraduate degree in biology from UM-Flint in 1989 and his master's degree in biology in 1994 from Eastern Michigan University. He has served as the thesis advisor for 10 graduate students and mentored 13 honors thesis students.
Throughout his college career, he's encouraged students to network with faculty, and to take advantage of learning opportunities in research, field work, and other hands-on experiences.
Myers said Viele clearly enjoys what he does.
"He really loves teaching and helping students learn."
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